Bahrain Radio, TV staff plan protest
Manama, August 5, 2008
More than 200 Bahrain Radio and Television employees are planning to stage a protest over low pay and cuts in shifts as well as overtime today.
The protest, to be held outside the Information Ministry building, Isa Town, at 2.15pm, follows recent changes to working hours, pay cuts and re-shuffling of employees’ duties.
’They stopped overtime, flexi-timings and made a re-shuffle - like moving people from television to radio,’ said a source.
They changed the working hours from flexi-time to shift because some people were abusing the flexi-time system - they would not do the full shift. But at the same time I agree that TV is not regular timings and that’s why some employees are upset.’
One employee claimed chief executive officer Ahmed Najem was trying to make some positive changes to the shift system and pay scale, but he had been badly advised by the management.
The employee alleged that cuts in overtime and shifts introduced on July 28 were already causing delays to the making of programmes for Ramadan and Eid.
’In television, in the lead up to Ramadan and Eid, everyone works more than eight hours to get the programmes made,’ said the employee.
’But because of Mr Ahmed’s new rule we now have problems with our programmes because we don’t have someone working on them.’
The employee also complained that pay for a TV reporter was below average.
’If you don’t have a bachelor’s or master’s you get BD280 ($743) to BD300 per month, which is not enough and in TV you need to buy nice clothes,’ said the employee.
’Those with degrees get BD500, but still it’s not enough.’
Other employees earlier said that if no positive outcome is reached, they might consider mass resignation or legal action.
They claimed that over the last two years, several colleagues had resigned because of cuts in pay and shifts.
One employee claimed that four months ago, the pay for a Channel 55 news reporter on a two-hour shift had been reduced from BD15 to BD7, resulting in three resignations.
Another employee, who asked not to be identified, claimed that instead of investing in people, the management had put money into a state-of-the-art studio and upgrading the premises.
The employee claimed the management would frequently promise a particular sum for television coverage, only to halve it once the work was done.
Employees further alleged that wages were often paid late and in some cases employees had waited up to two weeks.